By John Hanson, Senior Vice President, USO
Every year, the USO’s direct mail campaign includes an appeal that carries the message, “There are no stockings in Iraq and Afghanistan.” Well, of course, there probably ARE stockings there. I can report to you that there are inflatable Santa-in-a-Sleigh yard decorations there. Today’s troops do what American troops at war have always done. They do their best to make their situations as home like as possible.
But, they aren’t home.
These brave men and women are anywhere BUT home, working over every holiday to keep us safe and to secure a nation half way around the world. And, Americans send them things to let them know we honor that sacrifice. They’ll get cakes and candy and the kinds of things we put in stockings, even if the troops don’t have a stocking handy.
Several years ago, I was on a USO holiday tour hosted by the Sergeant Major of the Army. The tour lasted ten days or so, and we were going to arrive home on Christmas Eve. The tour was exhausting. We stopped at Balad, Iraq, and when we walked backstage during the sound check, we noticed that there were small stockings on the wall. Nurses at the military hospital there bought the stockings, wrote the performers’ names in glue and glitter and put a single candy cane in each one. I will never forget the looks on the faces of each person, nor will I forget the glee and wonder each expressed at the thought of someone taking the time to say, “Merry Christmas” in that way. Stockings have power.
More from the USO
May 15, 2017
USO Operation Birthday Cake Brings the Party to Service Members in Japan
When Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Jeffrey Lee received an urgent call to head to his work station one morning, he thought there was something seriously wrong, but there was no emergency. Instead, he walked into his own surprise birthday celebration, courtesy of his wife, USO Yokosuka and the Operation Birthday Cake Program.
May 13, 2017
'I'll Never Forget It": Why a USO Fourth of July T-shirt Can Mean So Much
Years ago, I wore my USO T-shirt to a Houston Astros game. Someone stopped me and said, “Thank you, sir.” I turned to see a man holding his young son by the hand. He said he was active duty, leaving soon for Afghanistan.
May 10, 2017
#Flex4Forces and Show Your Strength on Social Media
The USO invites you to get involved in our exciting new digital campaign, #Flex4Forces! The campaign calls on Americans to show their strength as a Force Behind the Forces by striking a biceps flex in support of our nation’s military and sharing it on social media.